World Health Day 2017
Depression: Let’s talk
World Health Day, celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization, provides us with a unique opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.
Mental health is integral to our well-being and as important as being physically healthy. The growing incidence of mental health issues is a reflection of the reality that confronts us today. That is why the theme for this year’s World Health Day campaign is depression.
The campaign slogan is: Depression: let’s talk.
Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. Yet, depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is, and how it can be prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and lead to more people seeking help.
In India, the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 reveals that nearly 15% Indian adults need active intervention for one or more mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffers from depression. These need professional help. It is estimated that in 2012, India had over 258 000 suicides, with the age-group of 15-49 years being most affected.
What we are trying to achieve
The overall goal of this one-year campaign, beginning on 10 October 2016, World Mental Health Day, is that more people with depression, in all countries, seek and get help.
More specifically, we are aiming to achieve the following:
- the general public is better informed about depression, its causes and possible consequences, including suicide, and what help is or can be available for prevention and treatment;
- people with depression seek help; and
- family, friends and colleagues of people living with depression are able to provide support.
At the core of the campaign is also the importance of talking about depression as a vital component of recovery. The stigma surrounding mental illness, including depression, remains a barrier to people seeking help throughout the world.
While the World Health Day 2017 campaign will be broad-based, the focus will be on vulnerable population, including demographic vulnerability (young people, women, elderly), geographical and financial vulnerability etc.
What is depression?
Depression is an illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following symptoms: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Who we are targeting
Depression can affect anyone. So this campaign is for everyone, whatever your age, sex, or social status. At the World Health Organization, we have chosen to pay particular attention to three groups that are disproportionally affected: adolescents and young adults, women of childbearing age (particularly following childbirth), and older adults (over 60s).
Materials targeting these audiences are available in the campaign materials.
- Depression is a common mental disorder that affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries.
- The risk of becoming depressed is increased by poverty, unemployment, life events such as the death of a loved one or a relationship break-up, physical illness and problems caused by alcohol and drug use.
- Depression causes mental anguish and can impact on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends.
- Untreated depression can prevent people from working and participating in family and community life.
- At worst, depression can lead to suicide.
- Depression can be effectively prevented and treated. Treatment usually involves either a talking therapy or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.
- Overcoming the stigma often associated with depression will lead to more people getting help.
- Talking with people you trust can be a first step towards recovery from depression.